Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment in the Light of Eschatology
This article considers Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment as the subtle elaboration of a complete Christian eschatology. Through the relationship of the two principal protagonists, Raskolnikov and Sonia, readers are drawn into the enigma and lack of closure at the end which is either frustrating or fulfilling, depending on readers’ understanding of the Christian doctrine of eschatology. For it is “The Four Last Things” (Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell) that underpin and orient the entire narrative, particularly as they are refracted through the experiences of the two deliberately opposite characters. In his creation of Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky certainly succeeds in conveying all the horrors of Hell (before dying); but it is his creation of Sonia ‒ especially as intimated earlier in Winter Notes on Summer Impressions ‒ that Dostoevsky succeeds in suggesting the greater abiding powers of Heaven to quietly and mysteriously heal. Crime and Punishment is thus proposed as an enduring artistic triumph because of its deep underlying sense of a specifically Christian call to ontological consciousness, following as it does in the footsteps of earlier Christian writers such as Dante and Bunyan, who had equally understood the crucial necessity of female wisdom leading the male pilgrim back to his home in the heart of God.
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